Thursday, June 30, 2016

Right in my Backyard...

Growing up in an average suburb of Southern California, I honestly cannot remember seeing a whole lot of what I'd consider wild animals. Aside from birds, and pets, I had to go to a zoo to see any remotely interesting fauna. A few years ago, however, I starting seeing squirrels in a nearby park. I thought it was cool, but I wondered where they had come from, and how they had managed to get there. The nearest mountain range, is miles away, and although there is a nature center across town, I had a hard time imagining these little guys crossing the busy streets it would take to get to my area. I'm pretty sure they don't wait for the traffic lights to change. I'd also seen the occasional raccoon or skunk, but that wasn't too hard to understand since they appeared to live in the sewer system.
But then, there were the coyotes. Early one morning I saw what appeared to be a large grayish dog, wandering down my street. It was joined by another one. and the two of them darted down a small drainage canal. All righty. At the moment, a family of opossums live behind my house. Hawks have swooped down to catch small birds in our backyard. Thankfully, so far they haven't tried to grab one of my small dogs. You just never know...
So one warm spring day, my daughter stepped out into our backyard to find what she describe as a "blue dragon". It had huge blue wings and was flying across the middle of the yard away from our...oh no...koi pond. We have a beautiful pond that my husband and sons built,surrounded by brick, that had been filled with a few medium sized koi, as well as dozens of goldfish. The goldfish had been just ordinary feeder fish, but had gotten quite large over time. As I approached the pond, I realized in horror, that there was not a single fish left. Okay, maybe one little black one who'd managed to blend with the pond liner, but all the others had vanished.  I wanted to cry. That huge creature, which we later determined was not a blue dragon, but a Blue Heron, had not only left us enormous white bird poop droppings all over the brick pond perimeter, but had swallowed up pretty much all my fish. My beautiful koi, had been the bird's main course, with about forty goldfish as dessert. Gulp, gulp...gulp.
Since then, we redesigned the pond to include more hiding places for the fish to escape to, should our uninvited guest reappear, which, as you can see, he did.  Perched up on a telephone pole, he scoped out the area. He may have seen our new fish, but this time, they were apparently able to escape the carnage. We haven't replaced the koi yet, but since the new hiding areas seem to be working, we may someday. Meanwhile, as people infringe even more into the wilderness, I fully expect to find more and more wildlife lurking in my backyard. Hopefully, we can all respect each other's personal space, and learn to live together.  Although if that fish thieving Heron comes back...I may not be too happy to welcome him in.

Caren E. Salas

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